Tag Archives: Xbox Live

Here’s what the Xbox Holiday Update means for PC gamers

This brand-new update brings great new features like Clubs, Looking for Group, Achievement Rarity, Group Messaging and more. With this holiday update, Xbox Live becomes even more social as we unite gamers across devices, giving you access to more people to play with that share your interests and more choice in how you play. The update also builds upon our vision to foster a welcoming experience on Xbox Live where everyone is included, respected, and supported.

Those on Windows 10 PCs or phone can expect the updated features to hit their Xbox app starting today. Xbox One owners can expect their system to also update starting today with the new features.

Here’s what’s new in the Xbox App for Windows 10:

  •  Clubs on Xbox Live: Clubs are gamer-created and managed groups that can help you meet people and grow communities of gamers who love the same things you do. Anyone can join or create a Club, and you’ll probably see a Club for just about everything. As a Club member, you’ll be able to set up parties, play games, share content, and easily communicate using voice and text chat with the Club across Xbox One and the Xbox app on Windows 10. Check out our tutorial video on Clubs here.
  • Looking for Group on Xbox Live: Looking for Group (LFG) helps you quickly find other players that you want to game with. You can use LFG to help complete daily quests, Achievement hunt or even get a group together to annihilate hordes of the Swarm and DeeBees in Gears of War 4. Quick and easy. Whether you’re playing on Xbox One or Windows 10 PC, you can quickly find other gamers to play with on Xbox Live. Check out our tutorial video on LFG here.
  • Achievement Rarity: Achievement Rarity helps you discover just how unique an Achievement is among players of a given game. When you earn a rare Achievement, you’ll get a special notification and diamond icon highlighting it. Unlock one today and let us know how you like the new animation!
  • Group Messaging on Xbox Live: Group Messaging helps you coordinate and keep in touch with your friends and fellow gamers by sending a single group message to everyone in a single conversation. Group Messaging works across Xbox One and the Xbox app on Windows 10.
  • Gamerscore Leaderboard: We’ve improved the Gamerscore Leaderboard on Xbox One and the Xbox app on Windows 10 devices. The Leaderboard now resets at the beginning of each month instead of displaying results for a 30-day rolling period, meaning you and your friends will have a clean slate to compete against one another at the start of each month! You can keep an eye on the Gamerscore Leaderboard through the Achievements tab in your profile.

Head over to Xbox Wire to read all about the new features rolling out to Xbox Live on Xbox One and the Xbox app starting today!

Xbox Unveils the Future of Gaming at E3 2016

This morning, at the Xbox E3 2016 Briefing, Team Xbox unveiled a new family of Xbox One devices, a host of new Xbox Live Features and the biggest lineup of games in Xbox history. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer underscored the Xbox team’s commitment to building a future of gaming beyond console generations and inviting gamers to play without boundaries.

Xbox at E3 2016

Xbox is working to unite gaming communities by bringing Xbox Live to all devices and all networks — Windows 10 PC, console, virtual reality and mobile — to create a unified experience where all gamers are welcome, respected and supported. The new Xbox Play Anywhere program lets gamers buy a game once and play it on both their Windows 10 PC and Xbox One consoles with shared progress, game saves and achievements. Every new Microsoft Studios title shown at the Xbox E3 2016 Briefing will support Xbox Play Anywhere, with more titles on the way.

“Gamers have never had more choice in how and where they play,” said Spencer. “We are bringing our biggest games lineup ever to Xbox One and Windows 10, uniting gamers across networks on Xbox Live and expanding the Xbox One family of devices with the addition of Xbox One S and Project Scorpio to give gamers more choice in how and where they play. There’s never been a better time to be an Xbox gamer.”

In addition to these exciting announcements, the team shared the latest on new games, Gamers on Xbox One and Windows 10 can now play select multiplayer games together. Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Sea of Thieves and Scalebound all support cross-play between Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. In addition, Mojang and Microsoft showcased cross-device multiplayer between iOS, Android, Samsung Gear VR and Windows 10 devices, made possible with Monday’s launch of the “Friendly Update” for Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta and Minecraft: Pocket Edition. With Xbox Live and the Minecraft Realms service, Windows 10 and mobile Minecraft players can host their own multiplayer worlds on private, cloud-based servers and play with friends 24/7, even when the original world creator is offline. Starting today, players with Xbox Live accounts can try Minecraft Realms on mobile and Windows 10 free for one month through the Minecraft app.

For more on all of Team Xbox’s announcements during this morning’s Xbox E3 2016 Briefing, click on through to Xbox Wire.

Expanding access to prenatal care in Africa, connecting cars in Vegas and making Windows 10 and Xbox history – Weekend Reading, Jan. 8 edition

Welcome to the first edition of Weekend Reading in 2016! From Africa to Vegas, Microsoft was busy making all kinds of news this week. Let’s take a look.

Wubwub. Wubwub. Wubwub.

The moment an expectant mother first hears her unborn child’s heartbeat is immense, but many pregnant women in Africa never experience that joy, due to a lack of access to ultrasounds and prenatal care. To help them, a group of African developers have created WinSenga, an affordable, smartphone-based ultrasound that helps doctors and midwives more easily monitor fetal health. Part of a Microsoft Imagine Cup competition project, WinSenga also helps mothers hear the comforting sounds of their baby’s heartbeat.

“It’s not just a great way to track the health of the pregnancy and raise awareness if there are problems. It brings peace of mind for the mothers. Mothers always want to hear their baby’s heartbeat,” said Joshua Okello, co-founder and team leader for Cipher256, the Ugandan-based company that created WinSenga.

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On the other side of the world, Microsoft showcased new, innovative technologies at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It demonstrated mobility solutions for connected cars, as part of new partnerships with big automakers and automotive technology companies announced at the show.

Volvo Cars, Nissan, Harman and IAV are now using Microsoft technology to enhance their connected car strategies. They join Toyota, Ford and other companies already working with Microsoft to bring their cars into a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

“In the near future, the car will be connected to the Internet, as well as to other cars, your mobile phone and your home computer,” writes Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive vice president of Business Development. “The car becomes a companion and an assistant to your digital life. And so our strategy is to be the ultimate platform for all intelligent cars.”

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Browsing the Web with Microsoft Edge and Fierce XL

CES was also the place for a bounty of Windows 10 news. ALCATEL ONETOUCH introduced Fierce XL, its first-ever Windows 10 phone, which has a 5.5-inch HD display, Cortana, Microsoft Edge and other Windows 10 goodies. Samsung revealed the sleek Galaxy TabPro S, a 2-in-1 tablet built for Windows 10. And Dell showed off an expanded portfolio of its Latitude commercial PCs, which feature Windows 10 Pro.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga has many modes.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga has many modes.

Ahead of CES, Lenovo announced its new ThinkPad X1 Yoga, a 2.8-pound, 0.66-inch-thick powerhouse. HP unveiled the HP EliteBook Folio, a new commercial-grade PC built in collaboration with Microsoft and Skype for Business. And Acer introduced the Liquid Jade Primo, a new Windows 10 phone, and updated its Aspire V Nitro “Black Edition” notebook with the latest Intel RealSense short range camera.

In other Windows 10 news, Microsoft announced that more than 200 million devices are now running Windows 10. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president of Windows and Devices Marketing, said the operating system is having the fastest growth trajectory of any version of Windows. “We continue to be excited – and humbled – by the incredible response to Windows 10,” Mehdi wrote.

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Xbox also had good news to share, with record numbers of Xbox gaming over the holidays. More gamers used Xbox Live on Dec. 28 than on any other day in Xbox history, and Christmas week saw an increase in Xbox One and Xbox 360 gaming hours over the same time period in 2014. Xbox One also announced two new bundles to help usher in the New Year: the Xbox One “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege” Bundle and the Xbox One 500GB Name Your Game Bundle.

BingPredictsFootballPlayoffs

Bing was hard at work again with its predictions, this time calling for New England to repeat its win as pro football champions and “Spotlight” to win the Golden Globe for best dramatic movie. If you follow football and entertainment awards, Bing Predicts is your guide.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella visits the Microsoft Social Innovation Hub at the National Council for Women in Cairo.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella visits the Microsoft Social Innovation Hub at the National Council for Women in Cairo.

Finally, on the Microsoft Instagram channel this week, we followed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as he visited the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Egypt to learn how students, teachers and entrepreneurs are harnessing the power of technology to make an impact in the Middle East.

The trip was the latest in Nadella’s journeys around the world, from Kenya to Chile, where he’s met people using technology to make a difference. Nadella shared some of their stories and wrote that he’s looking forward to “continuing to learn and see first-hand how digital technology is empowering people to make things and make things happen.”

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

Windows 10 Now Active on over 200 Million Devices

Welcome to 2016! In the year ahead, we’re excited to bring you more Windows innovations, more incredible devices, and great new Windows apps and games that will deliver more productivity and entertainment experiences across the broadest range of devices.

As we start the new year, I want to provide an update on Windows 10 and Windows 10 devices. We continue to be excited – and humbled – by the incredible response to Windows 10. First, a few updates on how we’re tracking toward our goal of seeing Windows 10 active on more than one billion devices.

As of today, there are more than 200 million monthly active devices around the world running Windows 10.

  • And Windows 10 adoption is accelerating, with more than 40% of new Windows 10 devices becoming active since Black Friday.
  • In fact, Windows 10 continues to be on the fastest growth trajectory of any version of Windows – ever – outpacing Windows 7 by nearly 140% and Windows 8 by nearly 400%.
  • We’re seeing increased preference for Windows 10 with consumers. Since Black Friday, US retail PC share* for Windows 10 grew 16 points to 62% compared to the prior four weeks.  Windows 10 mix of PCs rose to 87% from 58% prior to the holiday.
  • We are also seeing accelerating and unprecedented demand for Windows 10 among enterprise and education customers. As of today, more than 76% of our enterprise customers are in active pilots of Windows 10, and we now have over 22 million devices running Windows 10 across enterprise and education customers.

We are even more excited that these customers are loving Windows 10. Overall, we are seeing significantly higher customer satisfaction with Windows 10 than any prior version of Windows.

Highest Engagement on Windows Ever, With Over 11 Billion Hours on Windows 10 in December.

One of the ways we measure our progress with Windows 10 is looking at how people are using Windows. Recently we reached another milestone – people have spent over 11 billion hours on Windows 10 in December alone, spending more time on Windows than ever before.

While many people upgrade because they want the safest and fastest Windows, they are finding new experiences to enjoy and have fun with. Whether using our new web browser, getting help from Cortana, our personal assistant, playing games, or being productive, people are spending more and more time on Windows.  And, as more and more people use Windows 10, it gets better for everyone as Cortana and Bing get smarter, our Edge browser compatibility is more broadly tested, we provide a more attractive market for developers, ultimately allowing us to deliver more and more features people love. Here are a few fun facts on what people have been doing on Windows 10:

  • Over 44.5 billion minutes spent in Microsoft Edge across Windows 10 devices in just the last month.

Tab Preview in Microsoft Edge

  • Over 2.5 billion questions asked of Cortana since launch.
  • Around 30% more Bing search queries per Windows 10 device vs. prior versions of Windows.
  • Over 82 billion photos viewed within the Windows 10 Photo app.
  • Gaming continues to grow on Windows 10 – in 2015, gamers spent over 4 billion hours playing PC games on Windows 10. Gamers have streamed more than 6.6 million hours of Xbox One games to Windows 10 PCs.

Windows Store sees Dramatic Growth in 2015, Creating Opportunities for Developers

A major investment in Windows 10 is delivering one platform that enables developers to reach the breadth of Windows 10 devices – across PC, tablet, phone, and more – with a single app and a single Windows Store. The new Windows Store has storefronts for both consumers and organizations, with new promotional surfaces to help people discover and acquire content. This approach is beginning to gain traction with 3 billion visits to the new Store and more universal apps becoming available for Windows 10, including Netflix, NPR, Pandora, Shazam, TuneIn Radio, Twitter, Uber, Wall Street Journal, 1-800-Flowers, and more. Top developers are also releasing new games to the Windows Store including Minecraft: Story Mode – a Telltale Game Series and World of Tanks Blitz, with more new titles coming in early 2016, such as Rise of the Tomb Raider. These developers see the opportunity hundreds of millions of customers present – and we’re just getting started.

The new Windows Store has seen:

  • 2x increase in the number of paid transactions from PC and tablet customers this holiday season.
  • In December alone, 60% of paying customer were new to the Store.
  • In December, Windows 10 generated more than a 4.5x increase in revenue per device, as compared to Windows 8

The Windows Store for Windows 10

Xbox has Best Holiday Ever; Surface Book Coming Soon to 10 More Markets

Our Windows 10 devices also had an incredible holiday, led by strong demand for Xbox One, Surface Pro and Surface Book. In fact, 2015 was the biggest year in Xbox history – with Xbox One setting record global engagement and sales. On December 28 there were more fans using Xbox Live than any other day in Xbox history. Now running Windows 10, Xbox One is faster and more social following the release of the New Xbox One Experience. Windows 10 makes all gaming better with a consistent gaming experience across devices by extending Xbox Live to every screen.

The Xbox app in Windows 10

Coming off a great holiday in the US and Canada, we are excited to bring Surface to more people in more markets. Surface Book recently became available for pre-order in China and Hong Kong and today, I’m pleased to share that it will soon be available in a total of 10 new markets. Starting tomorrow, customers will be able to pre-order Surface Book in Austria, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, and New Zealand and it will be coming soon to Japan. We’re also excited to bring Surface Pro to India in the coming weeks.

Microsoft HoloLens will continue to bring more opportunities to developers, with Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition coming soon. And, customers like Volvo Cars and Autodesk Fusion 360 are creating all new solutions with HoloLens at the center. We look forward to seeing what developers create in the year ahead.

The first Windows 10 phones, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL are now available worldwide and off to a great start, with initial demand outstripping our supply.  We’re working actively to resupply the many stores which ran out of initial stock.

These are just a few of the recent highlights for Windows and our devices. We’re grateful for a strong 2015 and look forward to delivering more great experiences in 2016!

Thanks,

Yusuf

* The NPD Group, Weekly Retail PC Tablet Tracking data through 12/19/2015 (PC Share includes 2 and 1’s).

Welcoming Developers to Windows 10

Today, I had the honor of speaking to thousands of our development partners at the Build conference about our plans to make Windows 10 the most attractive development platform ever. It is always thrilling to see so many developers excited about Microsoft – and this year, about Windows 10. If you weren’t able to attend or watch it live, you can watch the keynote here later this afternoon once it’s posted.

Windows 10 on One Billion Devices

Today we shared our bold goal –to see Windows 10 on one billion devices within two to three years of Windows 10’s availability – the first platform version, in any ecosystem, to be available on one billion devices. We will accomplish this by delivering Windows 10 with a free upgrade offer, making it easy for customers and businesses to upgrade quickly, and with great new devices (which we haven’t discussed yet ).

Windows 10 Device Family

Windows Store for Consumers, Businesses, and Developers

Today, we shared more details on what the Windows Store will offer to end-users, businesses, and developers. Developers will be able to write an application once and distribute it to the entire Windows 10 device family, making discovery, purchasing and updating easy for customers.

For end-users, apps in the Windows Store will install and uninstall easily, and the Store will support a range of global payment methods on all Windows devices – including the largest carrier billing footprint of any ecosystem, supporting 90 carriers, to help people around the world who don’t have credit cards, but do have phones.

For businesses, the Windows Store enables admins to highlight apps for their employees, distribute select apps from the Windows Store and private line-of-business apps to their employees, and use business payment methods like purchase orders.

For developers, we announced several new capabilities coming to Windows 10:

  1. Carrier billing across all Windows 10 devices, which from our phone experience, increases purchases in emerging markets by 8x
  2. Updated Windows 10 Microsoft Advertising SDK with support for video ads and install tracking
  3. In-app purchase subscription support
  4. New Windows Store Affiliate Program

Windows Store in Windows 10.

Universal Windows Platform Innovation

With the Universal Windows Platform, developers can now create a single application for the full range of Windows 10 devices. The platform’s UX controls automatically adapt to different screen sizes, and the developer can then tailor applications to unique capabilities of each device. The platform enables developers to integrate Cortana and Xbox Live into their applications, offer trusted commerce, embrace natural user input, create holograms, and more.

The Universal Windows Platform enables Continuum. Previously, we’ve demonstrated how Universal Windows apps and the Windows shell transition seamlessly between tablet and PC modes. Today, we showed how Universal Windows apps and Continuum for phones enables a screen to become like a PC.*

The Universal Windows Platform enables applications to become holograms. Today we shared our progress over the last 100 days since announcing Microsoft HoloLens – the world’s first, and only, fully untethered holographic computer powered by Windows 10. Today, we shared how HoloLens is helping Trimble and its customers visualize building designs in the context of real world objects and landscapes, giving them the ability to walk around designs while clients view them remotely and see street side how a building is going to look. And how medical students at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic learn procedures without ever picking up a scalpel!

Many partners are building amazing apps on the Universal Windows Platform. Today, we demoed USA Today and WeChat. Other partners onboard include Disney, Netflix, and King to name just a few.

Partners developingg Universal Windows apps

Windows 10 Welcomes All Developers and Their Code

Windows has always embraced a variety of technologies to build apps. At Build last year, we detailed our support for open source and popular middleware partners, open sourced .NET, and announced native Cordova support in Visual Studio.

Today, we announced four new SDKs, enabling developers to start with an existing code base, integrate with the Universal Windows Platform capabilities, and then distribute their new application through the Windows Store to the one billion Windows 10 devices. The code bases enabled by these SDKs are:

  1. Web sites
  2. .NET and Win32
  3. Android Java/C++
  4. iOS Objective C

Today, we announced that Adobe will bring their Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements apps to the Windows Store, leveraging the new SDK for Win32 applications. We look forward to more of the current 16 million Win32 applications growing their distribution through the Windows Store.

Today, we also shared that King has already used the Objective C SDK to bring Candy Crush Saga to Windows Phone. The app came to market quickly with very few code modifications, and has earned a 4.5 average rating.

New tools for developers to integrate with the Universal Windows Platform capabilities

Microsoft Edge

Today we announced the name of our new browser, Microsoft Edge. We chose the name Microsoft Edge as it reflects our commitment to developers to deliver a browser that lives at the edge of modern web standards and security. Microsoft Edge is a browser built for doing, with built-in note taking and sharing; a reading pane for no distractions; and integration with Cortana. We showcased how Microsoft Edge will offer developers better discoverability of their apps and our plans for future extensibility with JavaScript and HTML. You can see more about Microsoft Edge in this video.

Begin Developing Today!

We’re excited that we’re well on our way to making Windows 10 available this summer. Most of the features that we have shared today will be available at launch; others will roll out later this year. The beauty of launching Windows 10 as a service means we can deliver new technology as soon as it is ready.

New tools for Universal Windows app development will be available later today at this location. I welcome you to join the Windows Insider Program to get the latest tech previews of Windows 10 as they become available, including the latest build for PCs, which will also be available later today.

I’m excited to see what you create!

*Hardware requirements will apply.

Xbox app for Windows 10 March 2015 update

The Xbox Team has announced an update today to the Xbox app in Windows 10 that brings some new features and functionality:

More ways to connect with your friends.

  • Game Clips – You can now view the game clips you created on Xbox One and watch popular game clips from the Xbox Community. Additionally, you can download your game clips from Xbox Live directly to your PC.
  • Activity Feed – Today’s update features the ability to like comments and delete your own activity feed posts.
  • User Profile – Your profile header will now be collapsed by default to show more profile information on the screen.
  • Friends Search – Use the search box at the top of the friends list to not only quickly find an existing friend by gamertag, but also by their real name if they are sharing it with you. Also, you can search by game title name to quickly see which of your friends are playing a particular game.

More control of your experience.

  • Improved Window Sizing – The Xbox app now fluidly adapts to changing window sizing to more intelligently display different views dependent on the size of the application window. This better supports a broader range of PCs with varying screen and windows sizes and serves as a performance improvement to reduce memory.
  • Connect to your Xbox One – With this month’s update, you can connect from the Xbox app to your Xbox One console, so you can remotely control your Xbox One from the Xbox app using a virtual game controller.
  • OneGuide and Universal Remote Control– after you Connect, you can also access OneGuide and the Universal Remote Control to change channels, manage volume or access the DVR on your set-top box connected to your Xbox One.
  • Games – Starting today, you will be able to see recently played Xbox Live games across devices – that includes Windows 10 devices, Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Major Nelson does a walk-through of today’s update in the below video:

The Xbox app will automatically update to the latest version once its available in the Windows Store (your version number should be 3.3.4004.00000 or higher after you receive this update).

What do you think about today’s update?

If you’re not already trying out the Windows 10 Technical Preview, join the Windows Insider Program to see what we’re building!

Action game Gigantic coming to Windows 10 later this year

Today at GDC, Microsoft and Motiga have announced a partnership to publish Gigantic for Windows 10 and Xbox One later this year. The game will be free to play on Windows 10 and on the Xbox One with Xbox Live Gold. Gigantic takes its inspiration from some of the most popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games and is also heavily influenced by third-person shooters. In the game, you join a team of 5 players to fight fantasy battles alongside a five-story-tall massive guardian monster which protects you and your team. You’ll battle against the enemy team in a mix of action and strategy. Sounds fun, right?

Xbox Wire chats with Motiga’s Vice President of Product Development and Creative Director James Phinney who gives some details about Gigantic and working with Microsoft to bring the game to Windows 10 and the Xbox One. Check out the Q&A here!

Additionally, you can check out Motiga’s blog post here that also talks about partnering with Microsoft.

Weekend Reading: Aug. 29th Edition – Surface Pro 3 now in 28 markets and Royal Caribbean provides 40,000 crew members with Windows tablets

This week, we’ve got stories on Surface Pro 3’s increased availability worldwide, Royal Caribbean Cruises going more high-tech by giving its crew Windows 8.1 tablets, and Bing in the Classroom’s lesson plans are back for a second school year.

Surface Pro 3 is now available in 25 additional markets around the world, bringing the total to 28 markets, including the United States, Canada and Japan. The 25 new markets are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom. The Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is available for pre-order, and will be generally available starting Sept. 12.

SurfacePro3Primary_Page

Windows 8.1 tablets are headed into the hands of Royal Caribbean’s 40,000 crew members, with those on the line’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, to be the first to get the 8-inch tablets built by HEXA for the cruise line. The tablets will include services such as Bing, Skype, Office 365 and OneDrive, and will provide a vital lifeline for ship staff to stay in touch with family members. Guests aboard the Quantum of the Seas will also be able to play games with friends around the world using Xbox One consoles, available for the first time on Royal Caribbean’s ships through Xbox Live and the ship’s unprecedented connectivity.

Royal Caribbean gives its crew members 40,000 Windows 8.1 tablets

As kids head back to school, Bing in the Classroom will be there, too. Since last fall, the program has published nearly 800 lessons plans that are paired with Bing’s stunning home page photos. When used with Bing in the Classroom’s ad-free search offering, the lesson plans enable students to practice critical thinking and search skills in an ad-free, safer and more private online environment.

A Siberian tiger takes a swim at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium (© Hans Kuczka/Aurora Photos)

A Siberian tiger takes a swim at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium (© Hans Kuczka/Aurora Photos)

Just in time for football season, “Madden NFL 15” was released, along with a special bundle for Xbox One. For $399, you can get both the game and the Xbox One console, including wireless controller and a chat headset, with the bundle available at Microsoft retail stores and other select U.S. retailers. You also won’t want to miss the special events at Microsoft retail stores tied to the release of “Madden NFL 15,” as well as to “Destiny,” Bungie’s much-anticipated first-person shooter that will be out Sept. 9. Hands-on gameplay, prizes and free food are all part of the in-store celebrations.

Madden NFL 15, Weekend Reading

The Kinect sensor for Xbox One will become available as a standalone purchase starting Oct. 7. It will cost $149.99, and also come with “Dance Central Spotlight,” from developer Harmonix. The Kinect experience includes voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as “Kinect Sports Rivals,” “Dead Rising 3,” “Project Spark” and more.

Kinect sensor, Xbox One, Weekend Reading

New Azure SQL Database service tiers with reduced pricing were announced for the database-as-a-service that gives customers greater price performance and business continuity for cloud apps.There also will be a new performance level, hourly billing and an enhanced service-level agreement of 99.99 percent availability. As of November, customers will see savings of up to 50 percent on previously published prices for Premium and Standard tiers.

Did you spot Spotify in the Windows Phone Store? The free app lets you choose from millions of music tracks. You can browse, listen and create playlists, and you can save and share music, as well as follow others. The revamped NFL Fantasy Football apps for Windows and Windows Phone is our App of the Week, letting you join and create leagues in just minutes, and track live scoring on the go of your fantasy matchup and favorite players, with in-game video highlights available as soon as they happen on the field. You don’t want to miss the limited-time FREE Disney Games sale for Windows Phones, with six games available, including “Disney Solitaire” and “Toy Story: Smash It!” There’s also the Indie Game Spotlight in the Windows Phone Store for games like “Skelly Rider,” “Manuganu 2,” “Timberman by Digital Melody” and more than 30 others. The Share to Speech app turns articles into speech or MP3 files by sharing a Web page or pasting its link. It can also convert Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents, along with many other text files, into speech. When you install Share to Speech from the Windows Store ($4.99), it also comes with the version for Windows Phone.

Spotify for Windows Phone

Spotify app for Windows Phone.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we offered the ultimate back-to-school prize package. For a chance to win, tweet an #8WordEssay about this photo. Join us on our page to learn more on how to enter.

Microsoft Facbook page, 8-word essay, Weekend Reading

Hope you don’t have to labor too much – or at all – this weekend. Thanks for joining us for this edition of Weekend Reading, and we’ll see you next week!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff